Israel delays approving Jordanian request for water
A Jordanian request for water from Israel following shortages in Jordan has so far gone unanswered, despite recommendations by field experts to accede to the demand as customary.
Israel regularly transfers water it pumps out of the Jordan River to Jordan, and the kingdom can request additional amounts if faced with dry spells.
A request submitted this month received a green light from a joint committee that includes representatives of the two countries, but its approval was put on hold by the Israeli National Security Council.
The tarrying is the latest in a string of tit-for-tat action escalating tensions between the two neighbours. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to cancel his visit to the United Arab Emirates due to Jordan’s refusal to allow his plane to enter its airspace.
Jordan eventually did allow the flight through, but the approval came too late. Netanyahu, who this week faced a parliamentary election that left his political future uncertain, could have used the visit to his political advantage ahead of the vote.
The planned visit was his fourth attempt to visit the UAE since the two countries normalised tied in September.
Jordan’s move was, in turn, a reaction to a dispute over a proposed visit by Jordanian Prince Hussein to Jerusalem. The prince, the son of Jordan’s ruling King Abdullah, requested to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque accompanied by his own armed bodyguards, leading to a dispute with Israeli authorities and the cancellation of the trip.
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Israeli officials who are in close contact with the Jordanians have expressed their concerns over Netanyahu’s recent moves and over the growing tension between the two countries.
The outlet reported them as saying Netanyahu was “deliberately endangering the stability of the [1994 Israeli-Jordanian] peace accords due to the personal hostility between him and the king and his entourage, ignoring the great strategic value ties with Amman have for Israel.”
The global coronavirus pandemic has also contributed to further straining the relationship between Netanyahu and King Abdullah, which has been troubled for years. Israel is shipping vaccines to allied nations while excluding countries with whom ties are strained.
Jordan, which has been badly hit by the spread of coronavirus, would like Israel to transfer several tens of thousands of doses destined for Jordanian medical staff. At the prime minister’s behest, however, Jordan is not on the list of countries Israel will export vaccines to.